Reviewed: The Best MCT Oils for Supplementation and Fast Ketones

MCT oil might sound like a strange supplement, but it can be one of the best "bang for your buck" supplements for ketosis.  MCT oil is a clear, usually odorless and tasteless oil extracted from coconut oil.  MCT oil has direct effects on ketosis and ketone production in the body, and is affordable as far as supplements go.  Let's get into the details of what makes a good MCT oil, and which ones we recommend.

The Best MCT Oil Products & How to Use Them

What is MCT Oil?

MCT stands for medium chain triglycerides.  MCT oil is an oil composed of primarily these types of fatty acids.  Medium chain triglycerides are extracted from coconut oil or palm kernel oil.  Medium chain triglycerides are fatty acids containing between 6 and 12 carbon atoms.  They are considered medium chain because fatty acids that contain more than 12 are considered long chain, while those containing less than six are considered short chain.[i]

There are four primary medium chain triglycerides:

Medium Chain TriglcyeridesNameMore Information
C6Caproic Acid1% of fatty acids in coconut oil
C8Capric Acid9% of fatty acids in coconut oil; quickly made into ketones in body
C10Caprylic Acid7% of fatty acids in coconut oil; quickly made into ketones in body
C12Lauric Acid47% of fatty acids in coconut oil; benefits such as anti-microbial; not quickly made into ketones

MCT oil is made up primarily of these medium chain triglycerides.  However, two of these MCT's are the most important when it comes to MCT oil.  Skip down to "What You Should Look For When Purchasing MCT Oil" to understand which two are the most important.

Why Would You Supplement with MCT Oil

Supplementing with MCT oil can have several benefits.  You can use it to enhance a ketogenic diet, or to promote ketosis while not actually eating a ketogenic diet.

Rapid Energy

Ketones are created in the body during a state of ketosis (the metabolic state of the body during the ketogenic diet).  Ketones are used by the cells for energy in this state.  (Read more about what ketones are here).  MCT Oil has become popular because MCT's are rapidly made into ketones in the body.  This can help people for several different reasons.

Firstly, beginners to the ketogenic diet would want rapid ketones because it takes time at the beginning of the diet to become efficient at producing ketones.  During the first few weeks of the diet as the body is adjusting, supplementing with MCT oil can help the body overcome times of low energy.  After 1-2 weeks, the body will become adapted and should no longer need MCT oil for energy unless...

You want a boost for exercise.  Taking MCT oil prior to exercise can give your body an extra boost of ketones.  Again, prior to the body becoming efficient at ketone production, an extra boost of ketones prior to a workout can really help.  Or even people who are adapted can take MCT oil prior to a longer than normal exercise or higher intensity.

Another reason for supplementing with MCT oil is you need to increase your ketones for specific health benefits. 

Health Benefits Boost

Beta-hydroxybutyrate, a specific ketone made from MCT oil in the body, has been found to be exceptionally beneficial to the body.  In the brain it has been found to be neuroprotective.  In cells it reduces reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are known to cause cancer.

Some people use the ketogenic diet to fight cancer.  Specifically, some research has shown that people using ketosis to fight brain cancer should have a very high ratio of ketones to glucose in the blood.  This level of ketones may require supplementation from MCT oil.

What You Should Look For When Purchasing MCT Oil

Specific MCT's

C8 and C10

You should be looking for an MCT oil composed of solely medium chain triglycerides C8 (caprylic acid) and C10 (capric acid).  Why only these two MCT's?  Because these two specific fatty acids are digested the fastest and broken down into ketones rapidly in your body.  Other medium chain triglycerides, like C6 and C12, while still considered medium chain, are not rapidly made into ketones.

When purchasing an MCT oil, look for one that states the type of MCT's on the label.  However, not all MCT products will state the type of MCT on the label - so you think you've found a great deal - research if it actually contains C8 and C10.

Lauric Acid

Don't be fooled just because something is stated on the label that it is an added benefit in your MCT oil.  For example, some products advertise including lauric acid in their MCT oil.  While lauric acid can be beneficial, don't be fooled that it is an MCT - it is found in coconut oil in high amounts and is not a C8 or C10.

If you want high lauric acid and low C8 and C10, just buy coconut oil!  It's a lot cheaper and naturally contains about 47% lauric acid, 9% C8 and 7% C10.[ii]

 Guide to MCT Oil Infographic

Packaging & Storage

MCT's are actually very potent oils.  Because of this, they are known to degrade any flimsy plastic, especially when exposed to heat.  Beware of MCT oil that is packaged in plastic containers that could leach out chemicals into the oil.  If purchasing an MCT oil in a plastic container, make sure it is BPA free and food grade; when you receive it, pour it into a glass container for storage.  Even better, find an MCT oil contained in a glass container.  For any MCT oil product, glass container or not, it is best to store in a cool, dark place.

And beware, if you are adding MCT oil to your coffee, make sure the coffee cup is not plastic or foam (think gas station cups).  It will literally eat right through the foam leaving hot coffee on your desk.

Dosage of MCT Oil

On most MCT oil products, the dosage is one tablespoon.  In one tablespoon is about 100 calories.  In one study with MCT oil on rats (there are not many studies on humans), MCT oil caused the amount of ketones in the blood to peak to about 3.5 mmol/liter in 1 hour.[iii]

Depending on your need for the MCT oil (ie, exercise, brain injury, epilepsy, etc), it is best to experiment with small doses and test your ketones about an hour after ingesting it.  You can slowly increase the dosage depending on how your body handles the oil (see side effects below), and how high you need your ketones.

And remember, the peak was at about an hour, so if you are using it for exercise, try to time your in-take correctly for your exercise.

Side Effects of MCT's

MCT oil can have diarrheal effects in the body, so beware.  It's recommended when first trying it to use it in small amounts.  Gradually increase the amount used as you know your stomach can tolerate it.  One option is to start with a teaspoon at any one time.  Wait at least an hour to see if you feel any side effects.  If not, the next time you use it you can increase by another teaspoon, and so on.  You can also take MCT oil with food if you have digestive effects.

Sustainably Sourced

Medium chain triglycerides can be derived from coconut oil or palm oil.  When it comes to your health, MCT oil derived from either is fine.  When it comes to the environment and sustainable methods of extracting MCT oil, an MCT oil extracted from only coconuts is more sustainable for the environment.

Flavors of MCT Oil

Some MCT oils come flavored like vanilla.  They can be used in coffees or taken by the tablespoonful.  Other MCT oils are completely flavorless.  It is up to you on your preference and how you will use the MCT oil.

Top 3 MCT Oil Products

Nature's Way MCT Oil


Another great MCT oil product that is odorless and tasteless.  It contains primarily C8 and C10, with 7.7 grams Caprylic Acid and 5.0 grams of Capric Acid, making of the 14 total grams 91% C8 and C10.   It does not state what the other portion is except that this oil is only derived from coconuts.

The great part about Nature's Way MCT oil is that it is only from coconuts, extracted by expeller press (so no hexane possible).  It comes in a plastic bottle, but it is BPA free.  Just be careful not to store a plastic bottle containing MCT oil in the heat.

This is extremely competitive pricing compared to NOW Foods, and we completely recommend it.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Extracted by expeller press without use of hexane
  • BPA free plastic container
  • Derived from only coconuts

Cons:

  • Only 91% C8 and C10

Left Coast MCT Oil


Left Coast's MCT oil is 100% MCT's.  The makeup is 7.8 grams caprylic acid and 6.2 grams capric acid, so it is 100% C8 and C10.  It is only derived from coconuts sustainably.

This MCT oil is packaged in a plastic container, however it is BPA free and food grade.  There are some complaints by consumers that the container is flimsy, and the oil can come with a little bit of plastic taste.

With that being said, Left Coast is proud of their MCT oil and provides a 100% product satisfaction guarantee.

Pros:

  • 100% C8 and C10
  • Derived only from sustainable coconuts
  • BPA free plastic container
  • Extracted by fractionation which does not involve hexane

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than other brands
  • Complaints about the container being flimsy

NOW MCT 100% Oil


One of the best bargain price MCT oils with only Caprylic and Capric acid.  It does not state the exact amounts of C8 and C10 on the label; however, a little research into the product states that it contains approximately 7.8 grams of Caprylic Acid and 6.2 grams of Capric Acid in the total 14 grams of oil per tablespoon, making it 100% of the correct MCT's.  Typically you can get this brand cheaper than any alternatives, making it our top choice.

It contains no other ingredients.  It tastes completely neutral and is odorless.  It is packaged in a glass container so no chemicals will leach into the oil.

One possible drawback to this MCT oil is that they do not state how they processed the oil, so it could be extracted using hexane.  Hexane can cause side effects, especially to people with chemical sensitivities.  If this is you, then it is best to avoid this particular MCT oil.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • 100% C8 and C10
  • Glass container

Cons:

  • Possibly uses hexane extraction which could leave trace amounts of hexane in bottle
  • Extracted from both palm kernel and coconut

Sources:

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium-chain_triglyceride

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4892314/

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4743170/

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